Last summer in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I, along with a group of fellow Ethiopian NYU Abu Dhabi students, launched the Qine Association for Promoting Education Quality (QAPEQ), a youth association that works toward the betterment of education quality in Ethiopia. This summer found us back in the Ethiopian capital, where QAPEQ hosted an annual high school student symposium and a public dialogue forum.
In addition to the announcement of the competition winners, forum participants shared their experiences of quality assurance programs already in place and discussed what more needs to be done. In particular, the event gauged the experiences of students and teachers in government and private schools — as well as those of the federal and city government representatives — on the national effort at promoting student-centered teaching/learning in schools. As well as highlighting the major problems that exist in the implementation of the student-centered education policy, participants also recommended concrete measures that would likely need to be adopted by each stakeholder moving forward.
This academic year, QAPEQ looks forward to strengthening its local school network by establishing more high school Qine Clubs that will implement small-scale quality improvement programs specific to their own institutions. Based on positive feedback from last year’s competition participants, it will also host the Qine Practical Education Challenge (QPEC) for the second time.
Looking back at the successful summer and the distance the initiative traveled from inception to reality, the QAPEQ team is grateful for the generous support from groups and individuals within and outside of Ethiopia, especially NYUAD, which supported the project in more ways than one.
The symposium was the conclusion of QAPEC's yearlong academic competition, established to encourage a practical approach to education in secondary schools. The competition, called the Qine Practical Education Challenge (QPEC), engaged more than 200 students from 10 high schools in Addis Ababa. Participants put their theoretical knowledge into interesting applications in numerous subjects offered at the high school level. For example, the General Business Challenge asked students to design a social entrepreneurship venture that aimed to alleviate a major social problem in Ethiopia, such as youth unemployment.
During this summer's symposium, the finalists presented their work in front of an active audience of fellow students, teachers, parents, school administrators, and a distinguished panel of judges. The following day, the winners were announced at the 2nd Annual Student Forum on Quality Secondary Education, which served as a continuation of QAPEQ’s annual tradition of public dialogue on secondary education quality.